What happens to a car when you drop it on its side from six feet up?

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | May 01, 1998

Dear Tom and Ray:

I am in a quandary as to how to proceed. Yesterday we took my wife's '94 Olds
Cutlass Ciera with 40,000 miles to a shop for four new tires and an alignment.
The next thing I know, the shop's insurance company is calling me at work to
report a "slight accident." He nervously explained that the car fell off the
lift, but other than a cracked windshield, it should be driveable.

As I kept pumping him for more information, he finally told me that the car was
actually lying on its side inside the lift, and that the towing company had been
called to try to remove it. I rushed to the garage, and managed to take some
pictures before the extraction process got under way. The car was apparently six
feet in the air when the right arm of the lift slid out. Three of the four tires
were off the car. The right front tire was hanging on the studs when the car
fell, and this tire jammed up against the wheel housing, pushing the fender up
and in; in removing the car, a lot of additional damage was done: three of the
doors were ruined, windows were smashed, and the back bumper was torn in two. In
viewing the car in the salvage yard, the front end is pitched down, the right
rear fender is higher than the left, and the car appears to be twisted. Oh, and
by the way, they put all four new tires on, instead of just putting the old ones
back on like I asked them to after the accident.

My question is: What happens to a 3,000-pound automobile when it's dropped on
its side from six feet up? My wife doesn't want the car back. She says it'll
never be the same. She's also none too happy with me because she wanted to take
it somewhere else for tires, but I insisted on this place since they also
offered a free alignment. What should I do? -- David

TOM: Gee, David, I guess you didn't notice that in addition to the free
alignment, the deal also included free drop-off service. Ha, ha!

RAY: Yeah. This gives new meaning to the phrase "We'll drop your car off as soon
as it's finished."

TOM: What happens to a car when you drop it on its side from six feet up? My
brother can tell you from painful personal experience that it's completely
ruined. And your wife is absolutely right. It'll never be the same again.

RAY: I once dropped a customer's Datsun 280Z sports car off a lift. Talk about
calling a customer with bad news! "Hi, Bob. We've found a new problem with your
car. It's two feet thinner than when you dropped it off this morning!"

TOM: Your wife shouldn't have to take this car back, David. She should insist on
getting the replacement cost from the insurance company, and she should buy
another car.

RAY: She doesn't have to accept their first offer, which will certainly be low.
You can check the value of the car in the Kelly Blue Book. Point out that the
car had only 40,000 miles on it, that it was in excellent condition before it
was "bounced" off the concrete garage floor, and that you want enough money to
buy a Ciera or comparable car with similar mileage (even if it's a '95 or '96).

TOM: You'll have to argue with them, but you're in a strong position here ...
especially with the pictures! Good luck, David.

* * *
RAY: Hey, did you hear that our pamphlet, "Ten Ways You May Be Ruining Your Car
Without Even Knowing It," is a million seller!

TOM: That's not what I said, you knucklehead. I said I had a million of them in
the cellar!

RAY:Oh. Well, it still has lots of good information on how to make your car last

TOM: Order your copy by sending $3 and a stamped (55 cents), self-addressed,
No.10 envelope to Ruin No.1, PO Box 6420, Riverton, NJ 08077-6420.

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